Mitsubishi Motors is set to shift its focus towards core products in the SUV, plugin hybrid (PHEV) and electric vehicle (EV) segment while also revitalising its brand image and lifting its product quality.
Speaking to the Australian media at the Tokyo Motorshow yesterday, Mitsubishi Motors president Osamu Masuko further emphasised his company’s vision for the next three years.
“We would like to actually realise a very reliable, reassuring, trustworthy powerful [identity]. Image of Mitsubishi Motors is relatively speaking not refined but tough, safe and reassuring, although it might not be perfect.” Masuko said.
He joked that while the Mitsubishi might not make beautiful cars, their other long-term attributes makes them like a “wife you would want to marry”.
Critics have argued that Mitsubishi’s laser-like focus on a few certain products for the foreseeable future puts the brand at relative medium and long-term risk, given its lack of diversification in an ever-changing market. A point of view not shared by Masuko.
“It would be better for us to concentrate on technologies and products that we are good at. So I think it’s more risky, if you try and challenge on everything instead of concentrating and focusing on the good technology and product that we have.”
Mitsubishi has a strong alliance with French duo Peugeot Citroen (PSA) with its iMiEV and SUV building capacities (Mitsubishi builds the Peugeot 4008 and Citroen C4 AirCross – both based on the Mitsubishi ASX), while recently joining up with the Nissan-Renault alliance for platform sharing and further EV development.
Masuko believes the two alliances will help Mitsubishi in different ways.
“The Nissan-Renault alliance is going to complement where we don’t have an alliance with PSA – so I think it’s going to work out because it’s a complimentary alliance, where we don’t corporate with PSA we have an alliance with Nissan.”
In regards to quality, Mitsubishi suffered a blow to its reputation with its Japan-only K-car in 2012 and says it has learnt a lot from that experience. Knowledge it will apply to all its vehicles in the future.
“What we learnt the most from this experience [is that] it’s not the case that, you know, only needing to satisfy the regulations is enough. Because the world is undergoing great changes and transformations, if the customers feel anxious and uncertainty, or a bad feeling about a certain thing, just because it satisfies the homologation [it doesn’t mean it’s enough]. We should actively handle this case.”
He noted that Mitsubishi would go back to its roots and rethink the basics about vehicle quality.
“We have to think more about customers, that’s what we have to do. So really, in the future we have to further emphasis this and further focus on this. We do a lot of tests but when there’s market usage beyond our expectations, we want to make sure that we don’t make that an excuse. So with that feeling next year we are going to pursue [that] and do our very best for the next few years.”
Mitsubishi’s plans for a next-generation Lancer appear to be on hold. The company has also stopped work on sports cars and all but shelved its Ralliart brand to focus on its core products.